Donald Rayfield

Dispatches From Russia

A Russian Diary

By

Harvill Secker 323pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

Beslan: The Tragedy of School No.1

By

Granta Books 291pp £10.99 order from our bookshop

Russia’s Islamic Threat

By

Yale University Press 349pp £25 order from our bookshop

Anyone who takes these books to heart will wonder whether we are in a situation ominously similar to that of 1935, when the menace of Hitler’s Germany left the bulk of Britain’s and America’s politicians completely unperturbed. In one way we are worse off: at least during the Thirties there was Winston Churchill, with the necessary stature and persistence to go on crying wolf. Now not one figure in our political establishment dares utter a word. Even after killing Litvinenko and shamelessly leaving a trail of radioactivity across London, Putin’s men have total impunity: a Russian hospital nurse might be refused a visa by the British Consulate, lest she seek work in the NHS, but an FSB killer – never. Our cowardly politicians’ main mistake is to assume (as does Gordon Hahn in his book) that we have only one enemy – Islamic terrorism – and can therefore ignore Russia’s reversion to brutal and totally corrupt autocracy. In any case, a demonstration of moral courage might force our government to look for other sources of gas and oil.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The breadth of Clarke’s knowledge and experience, coupled to a conspicuous absence of pomposity, makes for easy an… ,
    • In this month's Silenced Voices, Lucy Popescu shines a light on Myanmar's persecution of writers and journalists, p… ,
    • Lecture on war and peace in 19th-century Europe by Professor Sir Richard Evans, Thurs 25 Oct, 6.30pm Europe House… ,
    • 'Why, throughout the world, are so many people fascinated by the fiction and reality of espionage? And why of all p… ,
    • . here on books, Muriel Spark and life's tangled dance ,
    • RT : There aren't enough aggressive subtitles these days: ,
    • Churchill's on the cover of the October edition of the magazine. Piers Brendon reviews two new books about the Brit… ,